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Railway Children to return to Llangollen after 60 years

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has teamed up with the town’s heritage railway to turn back time by more than 60 years for scores of eager schoolchildren.  On Tuesday, 2 July, the first day of this year’s Eisteddfod, 160 pupils from three schools in the Dee Valley will board a train to transport them in style between Corwen and Llangollen railway stations to enjoy children’s day which is traditionally held on the first day of the core festival.

And that’s something that’s not happened since the summer of 1963 when the last ‘Eisteddfod special’ left Corwen before the line was closed as part of the infamous Beeching rail cuts the following year.  Since then, dedicated railway volunteers have gradually re-opened the whole of the 10-mile-long line, with the final link being forged completed last June Summer when the new £1.25 million Corwen station was officially opened. by Lord Hendy, chairman of Network Rail.

This has enabled a party of youngsters plus their teachers to travel into Llangollen station on Tuesday July 2 to enjoy a fun-packed day at the Eisteddfod along with their counterparts from schools across north Wales.  The three lucky Dee Valley schools involved in the time-shifting travel experience are Ysgol Bro Dyfyrdwy in Cynwyd,  Ysgol Caer Drewyn in Corwen and Ysgol Carrog.

Ian Lebbon, chairman of the Eisteddfod’s marketing committee who has organised the special excursion, said, “Llangollen and Corwen Railway has agreed to run the special service for pupils to attend our children day instead of travelling by coach.  Not only is this good for our environment but adds to the children’s excitement.  The last children to use this exact route would have been pupils from Llangollen’s Ysgol Dinas Bran travelling from Corwen in 1963, which means it has taken over 60 years to return such a service.  We did do our best to recreate the Eisteddfod special pre-pandemic in 2019 but that was before Corwen opened and we had to board the children at Carrog, the station further along the line.  It’s quite possible that some of our 2024 travellers may have had grandparents who used the service daily in 1963.”

The Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod has teamed up with Live Nation promoters Cuffe and Taylor for this year’s festival.  Bryan Adams, Simple Minds and Paloma Faith are just some of the names who have already performed on the iconic stage at the Llangollen Pavilion.

A spokesperson for Llangollen and Corwen Railway said: “The railway is very proud to be involved in the International Eisteddfod again after a long absence of running trains to bring schoolchildren and other guests to this historic and prestigious event.  Our beautiful station at Llangollen has welcomed many visitors to the town since it first opened, some 162 years ago.  We hope all those who travel with us over the next few weeks thoroughly enjoy their time at the Eisteddfod and take away extra special memories of travelling to the event by train.”

The Core Eisteddfod starts on Tuesday, July 2 – as thousands enjoy a Children’s Day Concert in the Pavilion and a variety of performances throughout the day, on the vibrant outside stages.  Tom Jones is will make his Llangollen debut that evening as the Llangollen Eisteddfod, a peace festival embarks on its biggest and most ambitious festival yet.